How Often Should I Upate My Web Site?

Tom Snyder photo by Tom Snyder on Jun 05, 2000

Before you can figure out how often to update your site, you need to figure out what (and what NOT) to update.

While updating your site to meet the changing needs and expectations of your market, make sure your Web site first establishes and then constantly reinforces your brand.

I happened to see an old Model A the other day, and noticed the Ford insignia on the front. The logo is almost identical to the logo you see on the 2001 models.

While models have come and gone over the years, the logo has been the anchor of continuity as Ford introduced the Model T and Model A, the Woody, Thunderbird, Edsel, Mustang, Taurus and the brand new Escape.

About the only things the Model T and the Escape have in common are four wheels, a windshield and a steering wheel on the left. However, over the century that Ford has been in business, the evolution from the T to the Escape was less perceptible to the consumers of each era. You could always identify a Ford by the logo… but it was also the style that said “Ford.” While giving people new features, styles and models that met the demands and expectations of a changing marketplace, the newest model always still “looked” like a Ford.

It’s human nature to resist change. If your site is one that people come back to again and again, keep them comfortable. While you’ll want to make it job one to update your site to satisfy the expectations of the people coming there, make sure that once you’ve established your brand, you clearly reinforce that brand even as the site evolves.

At Ebay and Yahoo, their Logos have remained the same from the beginning, and the navigation has improved almost imperceptibly. Subtle changes in colors and buttons have appeared from time to time. The combined effect is such that if you compared the sites there today with the sites that debuted years ago, they’d be very different. But you’d also see that they still look a lot like the original sites. The personalities of the sites have developed in a way to make them remain comfortably familiar. Many of their regular visitors have probably not really even noticed the changes in look. But, since day 1, both sites have had content that changes by the moment.

Does this mean that you need to change your content that often? Probably not. So, how often should it change?

If your site is one that simply introduces yourself to new potential clients who will go on to deal with you directly and never need to go back to your site, you probably only need to update your site often enough to keep your basic information accurate or to reflect new technology that will keep your site from looking graphically dated (that, of course, assumes that your site was done correctly to begin with).

However, if your site is one that takes advantage of repeated visits from the same (hopefully growing) group of visitors, then the content needs to change so that there’s always something new for them every time they come back.

So, how do you find out often they come back?

We’ll show you some ways to figure it out, as well as how to control (and increase the frequency of those return visits) in next month’s newsletter.

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